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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

STOCKTON FWO: Feather River Salmon Festival

Region 8, September 22, 2012
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees Denise Barnard, David Dominguez and Phil Voong at the Feather River Salmon Festival.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees Denise Barnard, David Dominguez and Phil Voong at the Feather River Salmon Festival. - Photo Credit: n/a
Adult male Chinook salmon resting within the public viewing section of the hatchery fish ladder.
Adult male Chinook salmon resting within the public viewing section of the hatchery fish ladder. - Photo Credit: n/a

By Phil Voong, Stockton Fish and Wildlife Office

On Sept. 22, 2012, staff from the Stockton Fish and Wildlife Office attended the 18th Annual Feather River Salmon Festival in Oroville, Calif. The purpose of this event was to educate the public about the life history of salmon returning to the Feather River to spawn,and increase public awareness about salmon with fun activities for children and adults.

Activities included fly fishing, face painting, coloring, live music, temporary tattoos, games, and food. In addition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), participating agencies included the U.S Forest Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the California Department of Fish and Game, now California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW).

The festival had many activities focused on the salmon life cycle and DFW Feather River hatchery personnel gave tours of the spawning building and educated visitors about the steps needed to fertilize eggs in preparation for incubation. Participants also watched salmon swimming up the quarter mile fish ladder to reach the spawning pool through a glass window.

This year, the Service booth offered many activities, including making salmon egg bracelets, temporary wildlife tattoos, and coloring. The salmon egg bracelets are an interactive activity that uses orange beads to represent salmon eggs. There was also a display with preserved specimens showing the different stages of juvenile salmon.

In addition, Service staff  taught visitors how to tell the difference between male and female fish using large salmon pillows. Visitors applied their skills and identified males and females in the fish ladder by looking at the morphology of the jaw. The male salmon develops a very pronounced hooked jaw, called a kype, which aids the male in competing for females during spawning activities.

The public was also able to observe tagged salmon used for research. One of the salmon had an anchor or floy tag on the back of the dorsal fin, as well as having its adipose fin removed. The floy tag works exactly like tags used to attach prices to clothing, but is instead placed in the salmon’s skeleton to act as a long term tracing device for biologists.

The festival was very popular with hundreds of visitors and participants, all eager to learn about salmon.

Contact Info: Joseph Kirsch, 209-334-2968 ext. 309, joseph_kirsch@fws.gov